Kremlin promises public ‘discussion’ on constt reform

Agence France-Presse . Moscow | Published at 10:33pm on January 21, 2020

The Kremlin on Tuesday said the Russian public will have a chance to discuss proposed amendments to the constitution, defending the speed with which Vladimir Putin is overhauling the country’s political order.

‘There will be a mass discussion of the proposed amendments, a mass information campaign and discussion will be happening,’ president Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Putin, who is two years into his fourth term as president, last week announced sweeping but vaguely defined changes to the balance of power in Russia, and gathered a working group to propose amendments to the Russian constitution.

The group however only met twice before the Kremlin proposed its draft of the reform plans to parliament on Monday.

The bill lays out changes such as transferring some powers away from the presidency, prompting questions over the speed at which such important legislation is being pushed through.

Peskov said the Kremlin does not have clear deadlines for the reforms to be enacted ‘but clearly it won’t be put on the back burner.’

He defended the seemingly rushed nature of the changes by saying the president’s proposals are always given priority status and are ‘absolutely understandable and clear given the reality in which we exist.’

The State Duma lower house is expected to vote on the first reading of the bill already on Thursday.

It is not clear how the government plans to organise the national ‘discussion’ and vote on the constitutional amendments, which some reports said could happen as early as April.